I clicked onto the Ravens website this morning and saw “Flacco vs. Big Ben” splashed across my screen.
With the NFL draft now behind us and not much going on in the next couple of months, it looks like we are now in the compare-and-contrast portion of the offseason. We in the media have to keep you clicking somehow.
But I’m going to partake in the conversation, sparked by a blog post written by my former colleague Jamison Hensley, because you can now make a compelling argument for both AFC North quarterbacks now that Joe Flacco has a Lombardi Trophy, one his fingerprints are all over after he tossed 11 touchdowns in the playoffs.
(Also, my bosses say I have to keep you clicking somehow.)
Both Flacco and Roethlisberger are in select company, perhaps just a notch below fellow champions and perennial Pro Bowlers in Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers.
Both are unique talents. Flacco arguably has the strongest arm in the NFL and can rifle passes into the tightest of windows. Big Ben is built like a bouncer, but is one of the NFL’s best escape artists.
Both are tough as nails. Roethlisberger is famous for coming back from gruesome injuries like a villain in a horror movie. Flacco is drama-free in that regard, never missing a snap due to injury.
Both are inconsistent. Roethlisberger is inconsistently in the starting lineup, having missed eight games in the past three seasons. You can count on Flacco playing every week, but you might not know which Flacco will show up at the stadium.
And both have won a lot of games in their NFL careers.
Roethlisberger, 31, has more Super Bowl wins (two to one) and Pro Bowl appearances (two to none). But at 28, Flacco has time on his side and he likely hasn’t reached his ceiling under center.
So which would I rather have? I’m not going to go there.
I will say, though, that Flacco has really closed the gap over the past two years. In Flacco’s first three seasons, Roethlisberger and the Steelers typically got the better of Flacco and the Ravens. But in the past two seasons, Flacco’s Ravens are 3-1 against the Steelers. They have won back-to-back AFC North titles. And they have more playoff wins than the Steelers (five to none).
In the grand scheme of things, this fun debate doesn’t really matter. The Ravens are happy with their Super Bowl quarterback and the Steelers are happy with theirs. Both are locked in for the long haul. And it’s not like these two bitter AFC North rivals are ever going to consider swapping their franchise quarterbacks straight-up.
But finally, this is a water-cooler conversation with having.
After all, what else is there to debate in the middle of May?